New Jersey is home to many ambitious and talented women who juggle family, career, and home. A select few of these women are also extremely busy building their own companies to help better manage the balance of work and family. At NJMOM, we want to highlight these extraordinary women building New Jersey businesses, and learn the secret to their success.
NJMOMpreneur & Owner of TWELVElittle: Julia Min
Julia Min is the owner of TWELVElittle, the fashionable take on diaper bags that has moms in New York City, New Jersey, and beyond saying, “thank you!” Julia’s experience designing handbags at Coach, Nine West, and Juicy Couture allowed her to turn an idea into reality when she became pregnant and realized there was not a baby bag on the market that was both fashionable and practical. Today, Julia is the mother of three little ones, and TWELVElittle has grown to include celebrated lines of totes, backpacks, diaper bags, clutches, accessories, and many more styles that will suit the need of any mom on the go. But what’s the best part about these bags? They are perfect for everyday use once your family graduates out of the diaper stage.
NJMOM had the pleasure of speaking with Julia about her inspirations behind the creation of TWELVElittle, the first time she spotted her product on the Manhattan streets, and her family’s favorite indoor playgrounds, outdoor destinations, and snack spots in New Jersey.
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Julia: At TWELVElittle, we design and create modern bags for moms and dads who need it all. We make sure each model is stylish, yet practical, and has all the right function at the right places. One of the best pieces of feedback we receive from our customers is that our bags are not only great diaper bags, but also great everyday bags after your family graduates out of the diaper bag stage.
NJMOM: What inspired you to come up with the idea for your business?
Julia: When I was pregnant with my first child, I had a hard time finding the perfect diaper bag. Since I worked in the fashion industry for a long time, I was always on the hunt to find stylish bags. But this time, I needed to find a stylish diaper bag.
When I was six months pregnant, I started designing diaper bags that were both fashionable and functional. I wanted to design something that I would personally be proud to carry around with a baby.
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Julia: My favorite part about our business is definitely the creative process. After extensive research in both baby gear and fashion trends, we brainstorm and start designing our bags. We also listen to our customers and make sure our next designs are better than the previous version. It is almost impossible to listen to every customer and make everyone happy, but we really do keep all comments in mind during the design stage.
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Julia: I used to design fashion handbags at companies in New York, including Coach, Nine West, and Juicy Couture, and I also have a BA in Industrial Design from Rhode Island School of Design. I was able to utilize various skills while designing our diaper bags, and I already had firsthand experience communicating with manufacturers and suppliers.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Julia: My proudest moment was the first time I saw a random mom in public with our diaper bag. It was in the streets of New York City, and I remember gasping for joy on the inside. I debated if I should run to the mom and ask for a photo or any kind of feedback, but I was with my kids so could not physically chase after her. But it was less than a year after our launch, and it was definitely a moment I was proud of.
NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Julia: I am simple-minded. To many, I look like a super mom with three kids who runs a business and has really good multitasking skills, but in reality, multitasking is quite challenging for me because I like to focus at one thing at a time. When I am working, I focus on only work and get things done. When I am with my kids, I focus on having quality time with them. Although I am constantly making new decisions for work and my family, I try my best to keep things simple and transparent.
NJMOM: What can we expect from you in 2017?
Julia: We will be launching our “12Little Kids” Collection in Spring 2017! It will consist of a variety of kid’s backpacks that are designed to match our bestselling backpack diaper bags, so that the kids can have matching looks with their mom or dad. We will also be expanding our business internationally, which is something that really makes me excited! As business grows, I am finding myself thinking about work even when I am with my family, so I am on a mission to truly spend quality time with my husband and kids whenever possible. I make sure I put away my cell phone and don’t look at emails during dinner so I can have uninterrupted conversations with all three of my kids.
NJMOM: What charity or cause are you most passionate about?
Julia: We focus on helping local and national organizations that benefit the lives of families, especially mothers and children in need. Just recently, we collaborated with the local organization, The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey, and donated diaper bags to families in need for their holiday party. When we find a nonprofit organization and cause we want to support, we reach out to them to see if we can help them.
NJMOM: Who is your role model and what is the best piece of advice they ever gave you?
Julia: My mom is definitely my role model. Up until this day, she teaches me how to prioritize my life. When I was growing up, she never pushed me to get the best grades or made sure I “fit in” to a certain group. She let me find my own passion and supported my decisions, and made sure I stayed on track. Now that I am a mom, I am reminded to put family and kids first.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by?
When you grow up and have children of your own, do please remember something important: A stodgy parent is not fun at all! What a child wants – and DESERVES – is a parent who is SPARKY! – Roald Dahl
Julia: Roald Dahl was one of my favorite authors growing up, and I remember reading this quote while researching him for a school paper. It stayed with me until I became a mom, and I remind myself to have fun with kids even if it means making a fool out of myself.
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Julia: I absolutely love going to Demarest Farms in the fall. It’s a small farm but there are plenty of things to do with the kids, such as apple and pumpkin picking and a small play area for the kids. We complete the day with their homemade donuts. Another place we go to from spring to fall is Van Saun County Park in Paramus. There is a small zoo, train for a short ride, carousel, pony rides, and a large park with several playgrounds. It is a great place for any family and my kids love all the activities.
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Julia: The best part of being a mom is being able to watch my children grow. Every milestone is so special and it is truly awarding to see their newly found talents and strengths. As a mom, I can only guide them to be good people and watch them find their own passion and dreams in life.
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Julia: The Barn in Closter is one of my kids favorite places for quick food and donuts. It’s actually my favorite place to meet for work meetings and catch up with friends. It’s rustic and cozy with great homemade food. During the weekends when it’s better to stay indoors, I take my three kids to indoor playgrounds and kid’s cafés around Northern Jersey. The Great Story in South Hackensack and Lily & Liam in Englewood are my kids’ favorites. The kids can enjoy the jungle gym, sand pit, and various toys, and I love that they serve snacks for the adults and kids.
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Julia: My home is in Demarest, which is a small suburban town in Northern Jersey 30 minutes away from New York City, so we are able to enjoy both New Jersey and New York for local vacations. In the summer we enjoy the beach, and rent a house with friends in Long Beach, or enjoy a day trip to the beach at Long Branch. My husband is a huge fan of winter sports, so in the winter, we go skiing in nearby resorts such as the Camelback Resort in the Poconos. We love that you can take the kids skiing or snow tubing, and then enjoy the indoor water resort all in one vacation.